When working in graphic design or web design, it is important to keep to some basic tenets to keep your client happy and your work looking professional. After all, if you do a great job with your client, then they will recommend you to other potential clients.
1. Know what the client wants.
This is probably the most difficult part of working with a potential client. Many clients will not know exactly what they want. They will have an idea envisioned in their head, but will be unable to communicate it to you. All they will know is when your graphic design ideas do not correspond to the visual elements in their head. Ask your client simple graphic design questions and have samples of each type, especially if the client is not familiar with graphic design lingo. Ask about fonts, color schemes, formatting, photos, borders, buttons and rollovers, any Flash elements, if the material is for print, web, or both, etc. Ask the client to show you examples of elements that they like from other printed materials and web sites. Although this may cramp a little bit on your originality, the samples they present will give you a much better idea as to what you client needs for this project.
2. Keep communication open.
Whether the you need to settle on fees, deadlines, changes in design, or other pressing matters, it is important to keep in constant communication with your client. Most artists working in graphic design or web design are not on site at the client’s location. Therefore, constant communication will reassure the client that you are working your hardest to meet their needs, even if you are not physically present. However, do not hound them constantly about your design ideas. That will just label you as an amateur unsure of your own design work.
3. Simplicity will win out in the end.
While your client may want an amazing “WOW” kind of website, or an out-there newsletter, or a poster or business card that is edgy, nine out of ten times, simplicity will win out. Unless you are working with million dollar clients, most businesses cannot afford to be edgy and run away potential customers. A suggestion? Have several different versions of your edgy design, from the simplest to the most extreme. Especially with dealing with web design, nothing can be more confusing to a internet surfer than a website with confusing web navigation. All of the excess text, graphics, and media may look cool, but if the potential customer cannot figure out where to buy the widgets, then they will simply go elsewhere.
4. Know your file types and programs.
There is a big difference between design meant for print and design meant for the web (and other media). Examples can be dpi, or dots per inch. Web graphics are only set at 72 dpi (a low resolution), and are usually jpg file types. The same image that looks crisp online will look pixelated in print. For print, the absolute minimum is 300 dpi, 600 dpi for crisp text, and upwards in dpi for photo-quality resolution. Know your file sizes – pixels versus inches. Keep up with all possible file types, from png, pdf, jpg, tiff, rtf, doc, etc. Does your client use a PC or a Mac? Some computer software programs work better on a PC or Mac, while others like Adobe Photoshop are fairly universal. Video projects work in the same resolution types as web.
5. Follow up with the client.
After you have finished the project, keep yourself available to the client for other work or any follow-ups to the design project. Send a “thank you” to the business for using your design, and keep contact information current with them.